The year is 1985, and two young men are working in 'production housing' at separate sites in what is now called the 905 region. A much older site supervisor decided it may be nice if the two met.
When Mr. Netkin purchased his first house in Hamilton in 1986, Mr. Meiorin would make the drive over every weekend to help the renovation. When Mr. Netkin was studying architecture at the University of British Columbia, the pals would vacation in Tofino, or visit Powell River, where Mr. Meiorin's father was born.
Despite marriages and children and running businesses, the two men kept in touch. After cutting his architectural teeth with Joseph Bogdan, Montgomery Sisam Architects and Ventin Group Ltd., Mr. Netkin would hang out his own shingle. Among other things, he'd design a cottage on Drag Lake in Haliburton, Ont., christened Clad in All Black, the 2,400-square-foot building was described in an article in the Globe in 2014 as a lesson in contemporary cottage living.
Today, the two pals are standing in front of a black-clad home, this one a study in how to engage with a half-industrial, half-residential street wedged between Toronto's Stockyards and Junction neighborhoods. A street with no discernable architectural style - tiny 1930s worker's cottages next to 1950s bungalows beside 1980s - is sonically bombarded by both children's shouts from a park and the thunderous shunting of assembling trains in a rail yard to the south.
The lessons are as follows: the neighbors don't really care about architectural style given you seem to be a good guy who is investing in the neighborhood, and there are ways to both engage in that lovely view of the park while still maintaining privacy.
'It is a privacy screen, it's also a sunscreen,' he says, as he points to elegant, two-storey tall arches that form a screen to partially shield the front door and all but two of the south-facing facade's windows. In keeping with the hardscrabble nature of the area, everything else visible to the passerby is either concrete, standing seam metal or corrugated metal.
While concrete floors and wire mesh guard the open-tread stair, the use of natural wood creates an unexpected coziness in the interior. Due to the extra windows that were achieved by setting the front door back, the west wall of the front room is further away from the neighbouring house, and by installing an almost fully glazed side door with a tall transom. Light is also raining down over the staircase from a skylight.
unlike most contemporary homes, the living area is at the front, the dining area in the middle - diners get to gaze upon an amazing piece of salvaged neon signage as they eat - and the kitchen is at the back. Kind of old school, but the floor plan came out of knowing Chris and Susan's lifestyle.
A wall of brick veneer has been installed in the dining area. It's so authentic that it looks as if it were a century-old exterior wall uncovered during a renovation. When it was first applied, however, it was too nice, Mr. Meiorin says, so he asked the installers to come back and be more ham-fisted with the mortar.
The large kitchen, which is mostly hidden from view by the front door, is large, logical and square-shaped, and contains the first set of European cabinets a colleague was considering importing that he got for cost.
On the second floor there are two equal-sized bedrooms, each with its own tiny ensuite and the principal bedroom facing the park. Despite the triple-glazed windows, Mr. Meiorin says, he can still hear the train shunting.
The upper floor is a family room/loft with a balcony overlooking the park. This feature, and all others, were as-of-right' with respect to zoning, so no delays in getting the building permit, he said.
The place of quiet elegance on a quirky street speaks loudly of the relationship, trust, and understanding between two old friends.
Mr. Netkin, speaking with a smile, says he is a happy man and proud of what he has done.